The weather may hold the key to Sunday's (12 May) Belgian grand prix, to be run over the Nivelles circuit, 23 miles (35 kms) south of Brussels.
The weather may hold the key to Sunday's (12 May) Belgian grand prix, to be run over the Nivelles circuit, 23 miles (35 kms) south of Brussels. Light rain fell during the practice session on Friday (10 May), and Austrian driver Niki Lauda, in a Ferrari, romped home with by far the best time. Lauda, who won the Spanish grand prix a fortnight ago, revels in wet conditions, and could be on the way to putting Ferrari back in the international motor racing spotlight.
However, if the track is dry, the grand prix will be wide open. Thirty cars are entered, and at least a third of them stand a better than average chance of winning.
James Hunt, in a Hesketh, turned in the second fastest practice time and the car seemed to stand up well to the perils of the circuit. Others in the top five were Jean-Paul Jarien, Brian Redman and Emerson Fittipaldi. Jacky Ickx will be trying to prove himself before a home crowd, but he was well down the list and appears to be having some difficulty in his new Louts.
The grand prix itself hasn't been without teething troubles. It almost didn't eventuate when organisers - the Belgian Royal Automobile Club - had difficulty raising the 13 million francs needed to stage the race, However, a local company came to the rescue and provided sponsorship.
SYNOPSIS: The Belgian grand prix - with early financial difficulties solved - goes ahead on Sunday at the Nivelles circuit, 23 miles south of the capital, Brussels.
There was light rain during the official practice session on Friday - and that favoured Austrian Niki Lauda and his Ferrari. Lauda, who weeks ago, turned in what was easily the best practice time. So Lauda goes into the race favourite - even moreso if the track is wet.
However, if the track is dry it will be a different story. There are 30 entries, and at least a third of them stand a better then average chance of winning.
Despite the line-up of international stars, most Belgian eyes will be on local driver Jacky Icykx. and the big question will be can he and his new Lotus achieve the form which won him the world title two years ago.
In the practice runs, James Hung, in a Hesketh, turned in the second fastest time, Others in the top five were Jean-Paul Jarier, in a Shadow-Ford, Brian Redman, from the United States, and former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, from Brazil.